This impressive development of social networks, of content and information exchange, of the desire to comment on and intervene in every discussion of every topic, tells us that the Internet has given rise to an omnidirectional flow of transversal and personal communications, the scope of which was unimaginable until very recently.
One of the biggest challenges facing us at present is that of interactivity, and, I would say, of “positive interactivity.” How ought we to tackle this challenge at all levels of Church life?” (Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, Director of the Vatican Press Office in a lecture given on May 18, 2009 at the Diocese of Westminster’s seminary in London. For full text and audio, click here. Bold emphasis is added.)
Let’s talk about that challenge of “positive interactivity” at the level of everyday ministry. Moving from one-way communications to “positive interactivity” in our ministries is a dramatic shift that demands a new way of thinking about our relationships. Most of us are serving many people in a variety of ways. However, we can be so busy carrying out our responsibilities that we don’t realize how important it is to ask for input from stakeholders when we are planning our projects, for feedback on our processes, for comments or questions from those we are serving—interactions that people are coming to expect in every area of their lives, including church. I cringe when I hear ministers say: “I don’t have time to be dealing with all of these emails.” Or worse yet—I don’t use email, it is too time consuming.” These emails are from the people we serve. If email is too much for us—then social media communications are way beyond us.
And yet social media can help us to organize our interactivity to greater purpose and to engage people authentically. When planning an event or new program—why not create an online survey for the stakeholders and get their input? When we do that we will get some ideas we never thought of and we will get buy-in from our stakeholders if they believe that their input is valued. When preparing a communication about an event—why not send the draft to a cross section of people and ask for their input? For ongoing activities—why not create a blog or a Facebook group or page, for example, to support parents of children preparing for the sacraments, or participants in the RCIA process? You give your input and let them share with you and with one another their questions and insights.
Before you collapse at the thought of more work, remember, we don’t have to do this by ourselves. There are many people on the Internet already. Ask around. There is probably someone in your community, office, parish or diocese that can help you to get started or even manage the whole thing for you. Also, just take one step forward in one of your ministry areas and build from there. You don’t have to do everything that is possible in every ministry right now. As ministers we need to be facilitating positive interactivity, not blocking it. Let’s get started today.
What are you doing to promote positive interactivity in your ministry? Your comments and questions are most welcome.
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